How To Write Comedy With Lisa Dickenson

Morning all,

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that I love books – I think if you didn’t read my blog before now and you knew me, you would probably still know that. One of the best parts about being a book blogger is that you become friends with authors so featuring them on your little blog is a given.

Lisa Dickenson is an absolute gem and genius when it comes to writing books. Her incredible summer read, You Had Me At Merlot (which is out right now!), is flipping fantastic and I could not stop laughing. When Clara over at Little Brown got in touch about having Lisa on my blog, I jumped at the chance. Seeing as I’ve already read the book and reviewed it (obviously), I thought we would make today’s post a little different and discuss some comedy writing tips…

1. Write comedy that you would find funny – I’m a big fan of SNL style humour (Amy Poehler, Kristin Wiig, Tina Fey, Maya Rudolf) and therefore I always have that type of silly, relatable humour in mind when I’m in front of my laptop.  Don’t copy, of course, but if you read it back and still find it funny, likelihood is that someone else out there will snort with laughter too.
2. Humour should flow naturally in dialogue and situations, so don’t try and ‘be funny’ by just writing formulaic joke after joke.  You’ll risk your novel sounding like one big dad-joke!
3. Humour works better when it’s relatable and self-depreciating.  I’m not saying every leading lady has to be a slapstick and clumsy – that’s too clichéd – but make it something you can imagine a reader laughing about and saying “Oh my god, that’s so true!”  Jokes at others expense, when done in a mean way, go down about as well as they do in real life: lead balloon-style.
4. Single words and character reactions can be just as funny as a line of text.  For example, in You Had Me at Merlot, a group of women begin talking about breast milk and breastfeeding, and the non-mum of the group slides her White Russian cocktail (main ingredient: milk) away from her, not wanting it any more.  Now I’m not suggesting this is the funniest joke in the world, but it’s an example of using your characters surroundings to add additional humour without going overboard. 
5. Put your funniest word at the end of the sentence – this is a piece of advice I read several years back that’s stuck with me, and I think it’s so true.  So set up your sentence, everything seems normal, and then boom you’ve ended with the word fanny and nobody saw it coming.